Four-Mile Trail Allows the Public to Experience the Disappearing Western Landscape
June 3, 2011 (Ramona)--Supervisor Dianne Jacob, the County Parks and Recreation Department and community and wildlife partners will open a four-mile trail in the Ramona Grasslands Preserve at 10 a.m. today, marking the first time the public has been able to experience the unique County preserve along a trail.
The figure-eight loop trail in the southwestern portion of the 3,500-acre preserve winds through a variety of landscapes and ecosystems—grasslands, chaparral and oak woodlands—passing a pond and stopping by a viewpoint with expansive, 360 degree views. The park is located on Highland Valley Road, just east of Archie Moore Road and before Highlander Drive.
The completion of this trail marks the first time the public has had access to the Ramona Grasslands Preserve, and it’s also a celebration of the success of years of effort to acquire and protect the unique lands that comprise the open space. The new trail provides a wonderful hike, bike or horseback ride that enhances the public’s appreciation of the preserve’s value while avoiding biologically-sensitive areas.
The Grasslands’ vernal pools and native grasses, now rare in San Diego County, were once common to the region. About 90 percent of Southern California’s grasslands have been lost to development.
The endangered Stephens kangaroo rat, the San Diego fairy shrimp, and arroyo toad call the preserve home. Likewise, rare plants such as the southern tarplant, San Diego thronmint and Engelmann oak grow in the grasslands.
Birdwatchers are drawn to the grasslands for the spectacular number of hawks, eagles and falcons that winter here. Santa Maria Creek, which runs through the grasslands, adds to the biodiversity.
Since 2003, when the state’s Water Resources Control Board awarded the Department of Parks and Recreation a grant for the protection of Santa Maria Creek and adjacent habitats, the County has partnered with The Nature Conservancy and others to restore, protect, study and acquire land in unique preserve.